- Darrell Moten is an Omegle YouTuber, meaning he makes content out of the strangers he meets online.
- Omegle is a randomized chatroom, where people all over the world can talk over their webcams.
- Moten documents these interactions on his channel SomethingAboutChickens — the good and the bad.
Darrell Moten, like much of the world, forgot Omegle existed until the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020. He remembered when he was younger he used to watch YouTubers play around with the site — a free platform where strangers all over the world are randomly connected to each other and speak over webcam — and thought it was probably having a resurgence as so many people were desperate for companionship.
Moten, 20, had previous YouTube experience after setting up his first channel as a kid in 2013 making videos about Minecraft and Club Penguin. His new channel, SomethingAboutChickens, was going to be an Omegle channel with his own spin on it. He downloaded new software, learned some editing tricks and then started putting it into practice — creating incredibly popular compilations of him having random encounters, playing pranks and doing what could be described as digital magic tricks.
In some of Moten’s most watched videos, which regularly rack up millions of views, he seems to appear in the same room as the person he’s talking to, or his head rotates 360 degrees like the possessed girl in The Exorcist. In a few of his recent videos, Moten looks like a small child thanks to a clever and scarily convincing filter. When people inquire about why baby-filtered Moten is up so late, he leans into the camera to reveal his real face, often causing the stranger on the other side of the screen to erupt in shock and laughter.
“I always liked the idea of having a normal conversation with someone and then all of a sudden something bizarre happens, like I just fly in the air or my head turns around, just because you don’t expect it at all,” Moten told Insider. “Those bizarre things are always fun and interesting to me.”
Moten now has 1.4 million YouTube subscribers and over 400,000 TikTok followers. It can take hours and hours to get the reactions Moten envisions for the video he’s planning. While people often think he only goes on Omegle for a short period of time, it can actually take multiple days of 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. shifts before he’s happy with the clips for even one video.
On a few occasions, people have contacted Moten to ask if they can be taken out of the video. If this happens, Moten said he cuts them out immediately. He also has a form on his channel and his Instagram DMs are open, so if anyone is uncomfortable being including they can ask him directly.
“My videos get a lot of views and so a lot of people don’t really want to be put in that position, so I definitely understand,” Moten said. “If you want to be removed, I remove you.”
Moten also documents the racism he faces on Omegle
Although the bulk of Moten’s videos are offbeat pranks, he also documents the racism and vitriol he encounters from strangers while using the platform as a Black man. In a minute-long video Moten posted to Twitter on October 19, which has been viewed over 3 million times, three giggling young white women immediately insult him. In other videos, multiple people call him the N-word as soon as the chat connects.
Moten believes these interactions, of which he has posted a few videos on Twitter and TikTok, is that they speak for themselves. Spending so much time on Omegle making videos means coming across racism and abuse is basically an inevitability, he said.
“It’s sadly bound to happen,” he told Insider. “I’m bound to run into those type of people and it’s a shame. But you know, it’s definitely the way of the world.”
Experiencing such blatant abuse — often from people who are his age or younger — is definitely concerning to Moten, but he says that he has had plenty of positive experiences on Omegle as well.
“It’s always the ideas and the new concepts that I have for my videos that make it such a fun time,” he said. “You’ve just got to filter through all the crazy people.”
He’s kept in touch with a few of the thousands of people he estimates he’s met on the platform, although he admits getting to the stage of actually wanting to exchange contact information is quite rare.
“I don’t go on there to make friendships,” Moten said. “I just go in there just to mess around and do a little lighthearted prank.”
‘They’re just their own entity of people’
Whether someone is going to have the kind of reaction he’s looking for is a gut feeling he’s built up over the last two years of making these videos. Moten said it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how he knows someone is going to be a good subject, but he’s learned to read people on Omegle who tend to be “their own breed of humans.”
“They’re just their own entity of people,” Moten said. “You get the crowds of people that are on there with friends, on there just to troll, on there just because they’re drinking and they had nothing else to do and they’re by themselves. It’s definitely fascinating just seeing the different types of people you connect with on a website that literally is free range like that.”
Moten also gets recognized almost every time he goes on Omegle to record, because he’s become such a staple of the website.
“It’s very nice meeting those people because they, to me, are like really diehard fans and that’s cool,” he said. “That’s something I never thought I would ever have and that’s hard to believe. I still don’t believe it. It’s just insane to me.”
Some people even go on there for hours trying to find him, which is baffling to him. He wishes he could talk to everyone, but as an introverted person, he often needs long breaks from the website after a filming session. He does appreciate everyone who watches him, though, and says his following is something that he will never take for granted.
“It makes me wish I could post more,” he said.
As someone who doesn’t really party or go out very much, Moten said he puts on a version of himself that’s a bit “more presentable” than his true self, and that can be draining. “I would definitely be way more awkward,” he said about his offline self. Sometimes he accidentally leaves Omegle on and someone will pop up while he’s editing, which catches him off-guard.
“I definitely just shut down because I go back to myself,” he said. He’s also not particularly interested in any discourse around his videos. He posts one, reads a few comments and responds, then goes “off grid” until he’s ready to share the next.
Moten doesn’t see himself doing Omegle forever. He hopes to make a new channel in the near future which shows more of himself and his passions. He looks up to commentary YouTubers like Drew Gooden, vloggers like Casey Neistat, and also takes inspiration from “Saturday Night Live.”
“That’s definitely my goal,” Moten said. “To have a channel where people watch for me.”